I don’t care much for bucket lists. They smell of defeat and rank desperation, somehow. They seem to be nothing more than a willful surrender and a fraught attempt to drag your limp and unfulfilled dreams across the finish line.
There is a better way to treat your dreams.
Why visit an exotic or enchanting place only once in our lifetime? And why in 7 or 10 day increments? Why not return, again and again, so you can get to know the local people and their customs. Why not return often to give them a helping hand? Why not share your humanity with them? And why only once?
Right. The bucket list.
It seems silly to enjoy something only once and then abandon it like it doesn’t matter, doesn’t it?
I know what you are thinking. It’s the cost. If you had the money, you would travel the world, and you would explore the ends of the earth to your hearts content.
If you have the voice of an angel, how often do you sing? If you are a good writer, how often do you write? If you paint, do you need storage space yet? A big open space to store the sheer volume of art you’ve created?
If cook or bake like an exquisite chef, why are you so stingy in preparing a five-course meal for your family or friends? Why do you not bake more often?
Right. I forgot. No money. No time. No restaurant. No customers. You’ll get fat.
It’s not like you need to eat something every day. You also probably don’t have a table, plates, cutlery, or a stove, let alone some pots and pans. You have no electricity. No heat. Of course, you live alone. No one likes you. It takes all your strength and concentration to dutifully curl up in the fetal position and remain there until it’s time to go back to work.
This is why you don’t share your talents.
This is why you don’t write, cook, dance, paint, give, laugh, and celebrate.
No time. No money.
You’re just patiently waiting to run out of time. You’re just basically waiting to die.
Do you really imagine this is the best course of action?
It’s not over, you know.
I am speaking to you as much as I am speaking to myself.
Our dreams are real. They occupy the depths of our hearts for a reason. Why else would they dug themselves in for so long?
My desire to become a great writer and photographer have existed inside my soul since I was a little boy. Even as a little baby, my dad would read a smuggled, hand written copy of Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag Archipelago. He told me I really enjoyed it. I don’t think you’ll be able to guess one of my favourite writers or that I took a lot of Russian literature when I was in University.
I’m 44 years old.
I sat there last summer in tears, because I realized that as an English teacher of eighteen years, I have failed myself as a writer. I failed the dreams of my younger self. It seems the path of successful writers is abundantly clear.
Write. Write a lot. Publish.
They have all written so much, learning with every single sentence, and have eventually made a living out of it. Yet I sat there realizing that I wasted the best time of my life reading some really badly written paragraphs and essays, from some very reluctant learners, and was so far away from where I wanted to be.
Or was I? Am I?
It dawned on me recently, that although I don’t have a large collection of published or even unpublished works, I do have eighteen years of experience in editing. I know when something sounds good. I can’t tell you why, but I just know. I see it. I feel it. I know it.
I have also discovered that many successful writers don’t begin until they are in their forties, and I now realize that I happen to be right smack in the middle of possibility.
I have some work to do, that is obvious. I have some ditches to dig. Some more time to steal.
Dreams don’t die. We simply look the other way.
It doesn’t matter how long it has been since you did what you love. It doesn’t matter how old you are. If people heard of you. If people put you down. It doesn’t matter.
What matters is that it is not over. You have been gifted another day.
You are here. Your dreams are here. Don’t wait to die. Go and leave a mark.
As Seth Godin puts it – go and make a ruckus.